In an era where technorati like Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking worry about artificial intelligence (i.e., digital intelligence), there’s something sweetly, retro-ly reassuring about Kodak’s deal with a number of major Hollywood studios to keep the chemical and physical processes of actual film in filmmaking alive. Should I not have anthropomorphized that just now? Should I not have made up a word? No? But I have an emotional need to do so.
You may have grown up with it, or you may be too young to know anything about it.
Kodak was one of the greatest success stories in corporate and creative American history – its celluloid film stock the technical linchpin of the photography and movie businesses beginning in the late 19th century — yet like so many other once-giant innovators it succumbed to the challenges of rapid change (i.e.,digital sensors) and filed for bankruptcy in 2012.
Their bankruptcy was about as sad for some of us as one can manage for a financial event.
But bankruptcy doesn't necessarily mean “gone forever,” and a transformed Kodak emerged from Chapter 11 protection in September, 2013.
So this: creatives rejoiced, and now they've put their money where their mouths are, guaranteeing a business case which will allow Kodak to keep making actual film.
What creatives, you ask?
Some of the biggest studios in Hollywood.
“My favourite and preferred step between imagination and image is a strip of photochemistry that can be held, twisted, folded, looked at with the naked eye, or projected on to a surface for others to see. It has a scent and it is imperfect. If you get too close to the moving image, it's like impressionist art. And if you stand back, it can be utterly photorealistic. You can watch the grain, which I like to think of as the visible, erratic molecules of a new creative language. After all, this “stuff” of dreams is mankind's most original medium, and dates back to 1895. Today, its years are numbered, but I will remain loyal to this analogue artform until the last lab closes.”Kodak Film Lives! Click To Tweet
In that same piece, Jean-Luc Godard commented:
“The so-called “digital” is not a mere technical medium, but a medium of thought. And when modern democracies turn technical thought into a separate domain, those modern democracies incline towards totalitarianism.”
Again, in that same piece, Martin Scorsese noted:
“The cinema began with a passionate, physical relationship between celluloid and the artists and craftsmen and technicians who handled it, manipulated it, and came to know it the way a lover comes to know every inch of the body of the beloved. No matter where the cinema goes, we cannot afford to lose sight of its beginnings.”
“For the last 10 years, I’ve felt increasing pressure to stop shooting film and start shooting video, but I’ve never understood why. It’s cheaper to work on film, it’s far better looking, it’s the technology that’s been known and understood for a hundred years, and it’s extremely reliable. I think, truthfully, it boils down to the economic interest of manufacturers and [a production] industry that makes more money through change rather than through maintaining the status quo. We save a lot of money shooting on film and projecting film and not doing digital intermediates. In fact, I’ve never done a digital intermediate. Photochemically, you can time film with a good timer in three or four passes, which takes about 12 to 14 hours as opposed to seven or eight weeks in a DI suite. That’s the way everyone was doing it 10 years ago, and I’ve just carried on making films in the way that works best and waiting until there’s a good reason to change. But I haven’t seen that reason yet.”
Finally, to give credit where credit’s due, I’ve been reading Ken Rockwell for years, and for as long as I can remember he has waged a one-man campaign for “Real RAW.”
Now, on to the actual announcement:
Film is Not Dead as Kodak Pen New Supply Agreement With 6 Major Hollywood Studios
Kodak have announced that it has finalised new film supply agreements with all six major Hollywood studios.
As part of these agreements, Kodak will continue to provide motion picture film to 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., NBC Universal Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp. and Sony Pictures for their movie and television productions.
“Film has long been – and will remain – a vital part of our culture,” said Jeff Clarke, Kodak chief executive officer. “With the support of the studios, we will continue to provide motion picture film, with its unparalleled richness and unique textures, to enable filmmakers to tell their stories and demonstrate their art.”
Kodak has been engaged in broad discussions with prominent filmmakers, studios, independent artists, production companies, and film processors to enable film to remain a fundamental medium. Last July, the studios made known their intent to play a key role in leading this industry-wide effort.
Prior to the agreements being finalized, several highly acclaimed films were produced on film, including Oscar® nominees Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, Foxcatcher, Into the Woods, Leviathan, Inherent Vice and The Judge. Additionally, some of the most-anticipated films of 2015 are being shot on Kodak film, such as Star Wars: Episode VII –The Force Awakens, Mission: Impossible 5, Batman v. Superman – Dawn of Justice, Jurassic World, Ant-Man, Cinderella, Entourage, and Trainwreck.
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(cover photo credit: snap from Cinescopophilia)